Hoover Joins McCombs School as Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Gary E. Hoover, founder of Bookstop and the company that later became Hoover's Inc., has been named entrepreneur-in-residence in the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship at the McCombs School of Business of The University of Texas at Austin.

Gary E. Hoover
Gary E. Hoover

"Our school's role as a world-renowned driver of innovation and creativity got another boost when Gary Hoover stepped on campus," said McCombs School Dean Thomas Gilligan. "He perfectly complements our existing strengths in research and teaching that help turn ideas into enterprises with commercial and social value. Our students will love this guy. He combines entrepreneurial street-credibility with a true intellectual's curiosity about what makes business succeed. His arrival signals our new strategic direction for the school, taking a lead in innovation, creativity and value creation."

In 1982, Hoover founded Austin-based Bookstop, which grew to be the fourth largest bookstore chain in the nation before being acquired by Barnes and Noble in 1989. Hoover then started the company that later became Hoover's, Inc., one of the world's largest online providers of information about industries, companies and executives. The company went public in 1999 and was acquired by Dun and Bradstreet in 2003. Hoover has served in numerous advisory positions in education and business, including a five-year stint on the board of directors at Whole Foods Market.

Most of Hoover's energy, however, has gone into igniting entrepreneurial thinking and action in diverse industries worldwide, and he has delivered his message to groups in the United States Canada, Mexico, Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia. Hoover has mentored hundreds of young entrepreneurs.

Hoover said he hopes to help many more students in their entrepreneurial quests, and he said that those who plan on a life in the corporate world will also benefit from knowing how entrepreneurs think and compete.

"Joining the University of Texas at Austin with its vast resources and research capabilities is one of the most exciting things I have ever done," said Hoover. "The McCombs School brings a long tradition of scholarship and teaching that humbles me."

Hoover said he is a proponent of "the liberal arts approach to business education," which stresses that entrepreneurs and other leaders need a strong understanding of historical, cultural and geographical contexts in order to optimize their chances of success.

"Of course," Hoover said, "businesses need to earn profits, but to say that the purpose of business is only to make a profit is the same as saying that the purpose of a human being is to carry around a heart. Yes, you will die without a heart and you need to keep it healthy, but that isn't why you live. This is one of the relatively few regards in which I disagree with my old teacher Milton Friedman. I grew up in a General Motors town. Over time its management focused on quarterly earnings and forgot their original mission: making great cars that people wanted. Now there are no earnings, quarterly or otherwise."

Learn more about Hoover.